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Copyright: Fred Robel, and Fritz365 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fred Robel and Fritz365 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Broken Part Security Blanket

This little battered scrap of metal
A pseudo-triangle of aluminum
A bit tattered at one end
Is my job in a microcosm

Flashlight in one hand
A rag in the other
I'd found this little beauty on an engine pylon
Not the most important piece of metal
But it's part of the airplane
And it was damaged
So I'd written it down

It's an easy fix
Only an official Boeing drawing away
To find the material spec
And the dimensions

That combined with the mostly intact sample part
Makes for a fine fabrication
All written up proper and signed off after installation
It looks like new up there
The brand new little pseudo-triangle
Riveted in place with brand new rivets

Which leaves me here at the desk
Idly playing with this now useless old damaged piece
With a shiny smooth spot that my fingers like to touch
It feels satin-y

I wish everything in life was as easy to fix as this piece of metal
To just excise the bad part
Consult the proper drawing
And fabricate the new part
Installing with standard practices

Looked at in that light
My job is easy
It adheres to a fixed set of rules and criteria
With techniques that are known and must be followed

All of which leaves you with a shiny airworthy aircraft
Safe to use for flight

Life isn't as easy
The points of data always seem to move about
Everyone has a different idea of how to do things
And you never know if it's safe to proceed

The little broken part feels good in my hand
I think I'll take it home
A small reassurance that not everything is hard to figure out
That maybe there is hope for life after all

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dormant Words In An Eyeless Forest

If a story lies unread
Does it's cliffhanger still hang?
Does the villain get his comeuppance?
The hero the girl?

Do the words live when there are no eyes to see?
Will the books breathe and tell their stories
When they rest upon shelves for all eternity?

Or at least until they turn to dust
Which we shall count as an eternity
For an object made of paper, ink, glue and leather

Until death do us part
For all time
Until the universe turns to dust
And all language is forgotten

Stories locked into words
Sealed inside books tight shut

Until eyes rest upon them
Unlocking their song once again

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Smokeless Mirrors of Progress

I took a video of a customer's Beoing 767 today

I had barely heard it taxiing out to the runway
It's engines were so quiet
The two General Electric CF-6's sounding so far away
Almost like they weren't even fired up

I drove my car across the ramp
To the taxiway turn-off
So that I could watch the plane takeoff
On the runway only three hundred yards away
My iPhone at the ready
Video camera mode engaged

The brilliant looking silver and maroon aircraft turned square with the runway
Spooled up it's barely heard engines
And began picking up speed
With no fuss whatsoever
It's front wheel becoming light as it passed perpendicular to me
Leaving the ground entirely a few seconds later

The details of the plane grew fuzzy as it pulled away
Climbing at what seemed to be about a 30 degree angle
Very faint black smoke trailing behind it
Marking it's path through the air
Until it was just a dot in the blue cloudless sky

I turned off the camera
And reflected on how uneventful it all was

I don't mean that I wish something bad had happened

It just made me wistful for the older aircraft
The DC-8's
The 707's
That always made such a production out of takeoffs

Usually pulling onto the runway and stopping
Brakes set hard
Spooling up all four engines until it felt that the earth was shaking
Black smoke bellowing out behind them
Before releasing the brakes and rolling
Gathering themselves for an eventual leap into the sky
A desperate grab for the stratosphere
Propelled by the crackling barely contained turbine explosions
Happening in quartet under their wings
The deep dark black smoke trails lingering for long minutes after their departure
And sooty marks on the ground at the start of the runway
Where they had spooled up their engines before rollout
Marking their presence as a dog pisses on a hydrant

There is an engineless DC-8 out on this very ramp
Resplendent in sleek styling
Various air intakes and exhaust all over it's fuselage
Things that the new jets don't require

It's waiting for the recycler's chop
To be turned into scrap in just another dumpster
It's only crime that of age
And to have lived long past it's predicted life

Another ghost for the concrete ramp of the Air Base to collect
Another mark on the bedpost of progress
But I don't have to like it
So I don't

Bubbley Blister Blues

It was a skin cracking cry day
A very sunny Friday
With the hot rays of Sol beating down
Ultraviolently baking
Despite the sunblock caking
That was built up upon the skin

Now there are blisters
Wiggly iggly fistulers
Full of god knows what
And ready to pop

Big Brother is chasing
Looking to hold down
To have a smack down
Right where the blisters are the worst

Then stand high above the tears
As a white t-shirt is soaked
With whatever was inside the outside
Of us
These many sacks of walking talking water

All because Mother harangued us
With her summer mantra

"Take of your shirt and get a little sun!"

Friday, April 26, 2013

An Almost Spring Thing

An icy kiss touched my lips
Tasting of winter with hints of smoke
Earthy decomposition in the air
With an almost but not quite springtime flair
Spring is almost upon us
But not yet
But not yet
The ice crystals still crackle in the night
Flakes of snow still tumble down upon us

But not quite

A Helping Hand

My arm was straight up in the air
Reaching into an aircraft wing compartment
My head and body wouldn't fit
So the arm was where it was

I'd been smart and wrapped a rag around my forearm
For catching the Skydrol hydraulic fluid
Because my hand is holding an actuator in place
While my partner on top of the wing attaches the mount bolts
And hooks up the lines

Meanwhile the new actuator is leaking
Slowly but surely down my arm to the rag
Leaving me wondering how long the rag will hold out
Before it gets saturated
Sending rivulets of fluid the rest of the way down my arm
To my armpit
And wherever else it wants to go

"Hurry up!"
I call out to my partner

There is no answer
Though I can feel him as he works on the actuator

The first drop of fluid makes it's way past the rag on my forearm
Slowly going down the inside of my arm
Into my armpit
Where it sets up a burning sensation
Like when you eat some deceptively spicy hot food
And the sensation just builds and builds

Except this is in my armpit
And I can't reach it

It burns

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday

On this Thankful Thursday
We give thanks for people and things
Events and experiences
Some gold plated others of ratty old strings

The grass in my yard is thankful today
For the sunlight upon it's greenery
Reviving it from it's winter slumber
Growing stronger in it's photosynthesis pageantry

My dog is thankful today
For having humans to cater to her needs
Buying her the favored treats
As the backups are repugnant to her
She turns her little nose up to them
They are beneath her notice it seems

In contrast I am thankful for whatever comes
As the alternative is nothing at all
One's name carved in stone with a pair of dates
Upon grave marker or memorial wall

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blind Backwards Falling Dog

The dog slid backwards down the long straight set of stairs
Bouncing like a bobble head
Her milky unseeing eyes wide open in distress

The fat man pursued her
Getting within a foot or two of her as she would slow slightly
Then having to awkwardly run downwards again as the dog picked up speed

Nobody knew what the fat man would do if he actually caught up to her
As there was no way that he could have picked her up or checked her slide
In order to do so
He would have had to bend over to reach her
At her location at least eight inches below the soles of his feet

An act that would have required much grace for a thin and flexible person
Let alone this lumbering fat man
Who still ran half bent over
His buttcrack flying at full mast
In his vain attempt to grab the little blind crippled dog
As she slid ever downwards to the basement

Someone laughed
Because the situation was so comical
Someone stood in disapproval
Because such things were just not funny

The dog finally arrived at the bottom of the stairs
Whoofing onto the smooth basement tile floor
Sliding an extra foot before stopping
Her pink wrapped crippled front legs straight out from her body

The fat man reached her
Almost losing his pants as he picked her up finally
Retrieving her from the depths of the kitty litter smelling basement
Back up the stairs
To the warmth and the light that the little dog couldn't hardly see

Set back down
The little blind crippled dog continued on her way to the water dish
As if nothing at all had happened

The Onion City of The World

This town once proclaimed itself as:
The Onion City of The World!

But somewhere along the line
The onion fell out of favor
For unknown reasons of flavor
Of furrows and farming
Maybe even global warming

Who can say
But it does not proclaim to be such today

These days one can see a lot of sugar beets and soybeans
Knee high by the Fourth of July corn and assorted greens
I think I may have once seen a field of potatoes
But of the onion there is no sign

Once proudly proclaimed
And in retrospect almost in vain
The mighty Onion City is not the place it once was

The railroad spur that once serviced the town
That dead ended at the river by the library
Is many decades long gone
Marked now by it's slightly raised roadbed
And cleared arrow strait path dead South for twenty miles
The path that gently bends itself back into the mainline

The tracks where "Mackinac Mac" once fired coal and turned wrench

The two crossed runways of the grassy airport
The pride of the Onion City in 1936
Are overgrown with scrub pine
One quarter covered by the local pickle factory

The town billed itself as "The Perch Capital" in the 1970's
And it seemed as if it was for years
Fishermen and their families coming every year
Good times and good fish
But the times or the fish didn't last

Some blame the water levels that went down
Making much of the beachfront a marsh grassy mess
Or invasive species taking the beloved perch away
Gas prices
The economy

The water fun land is closed down
Half the restaurants are gone
'For Sale' signs mark far too many vacation cottages
The grocery store even went away

Which all sounds tragic
But really it's not
It's the once every four decade oppourtunity
For the town of Au Gres to reinvent itself once again

To become the place to go:
To be the unchallenged Capital or City of Something once again

Monday, April 22, 2013

Little Cousin of Big Death

Deep brown eyes look into mine
Only about a foot away
"Breathe deeply"
A baritone voice says

I feel like doing anything but

But I do
After all I did surrender myself
Allow myself to be trussed to this table
With so many wires and tubes

Just another piece of meat for the butcher
With only one thing left to do

"C'mon, count backwards for me
From one hundred"
That voice is very insistent
Though I cannot see the mouth
It's as if the deep brown eyes themselves are talking
"I'll count with you now
Bet you can't make it to one"

I think the eyes smiled at that
Happy little crows feet danced upon their edges

There was nothing left but to go along with the show really
So I started counting with the eyes with the voice
"One hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven....."

The little death snuck up on me
Stealing the memory of how far down I got to count
Burying me in wet woolly sheep
All equally as dead as me
Pushing me down as down can go
Holding me there

While the butchers earned their coin
Slicing me up to the highest bidder
Trying to make certain that I could carry on
At least long enough to pay my bill

It's Red

Perception seems to be everything
If I think that something is red
Then no matter what is ever shown to be true
That something will always have the memory if being red

If I thought those red thoughts hard enough
Then that thing will have red thoughts about itself too
Making my preconception
Almost true

And when I think it's red
And it thinks it's red too
Then it really doesn't matter
That it's real color is blue

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Guilt of the Unseen Cubic Foot

I'm inspecting an airplane
Just any old airplane
Could be a Cessna 150
Could be a Boeing 747

I'm looking for anything that might be wrong
Corrosion on the metal surfaces
Damage or delamination of composite structure
Improperly routed or damaged wiring
Worn or broken things of any kind

Going along with my flashlight and mirror
Peeking inside all the open panels
A checklist of areas and things to look for on my clipboard
And then I get to an unopened area

Whomever did the 'Open' step on the work cards forgot this one

It's not a big area
About one cubic foot of area all told

I stare at it thoughtfully
Knowing that on this type of airplane
I've never found anything wrong in this particular area
Not in ten years of looking at these aircraft

So I move on
Confident that nothing could be wrong in there
Looking at everything else
Finishing my inspection paperwork
Writing my non-routine cards
Punching out and going home

Not a care in the world

Until I lay in bed that night
Thinking about things

Thinking about that unopened panel
That one cubic foot of space that I did not look at
But that I had signed for saying that I had

I couldn't get to sleep
I kept seeing things in that one cubic foot space

I saw corrosion on the wing spar
I saw wiring that had chafed through and was arcing
I saw broken brackets and clamps on tubing
I saw a flashlight and a rag that someone had left up there months before

I saw everything possible that could be wrong in that one cubic foot
All because I had not actually looked
Therefore everything was wrong inside that area

I finally got to sleep
But it was a fitful sleep
My dreams even worse than my thoughts
Creatures inhabited that one cubic foot in my dreams
Doing wild and crazy things
Full of bees
Full of bats
Full of metal eating grubs

The next morning I was tired
But on my way to my car I grabbed my ratcheting screwdriver
The good one
The Snap-On one with the amazing 'bowling ball material' handle
That I'd had for twenty years

I took it with me to work
And at lunch time that day
Instead of sitting down and eating
I snuck out to the airplane
I opened that panel by removing forty two screws
Placing them carefully inside a parts bag
And I looked inside with my flashlight

Of course, there was nothing wrong inside there

But until I looked
Everything and anything was wrong inside there

Erwin Schrodinger was on to something with that cat thing

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Two Cups of Coffee

Two coffee cups on a table

That was always the constant

The coffee cups changed
The tables weren't the same
Sometimes they weren't even tables

It was how I met you
It was how I knew you
The two cups of coffee
One for me and one for you

Oh the problems we solved!
Every problem on earth
Except our own

Even after I moved away
There was still two cups of coffee on the table
One for me and one for you
Different tables though
A world apart

Now here I am and there you are
Me standing here you laying there
No coffee no table
You'll never speak to me again
Solve problems or share stories

But I have plenty to tell you before I have to leave you
Let me drag a table and a chair over
I'll place two cups of coffee on it
One for me and one for you
Don't worry, I'll drink yours for you I'm sure

There's time enough for one last chat with you

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sailing The Inland Sea

Sailing the inland sea
Shores all of last season's leaves
In a boat without propulsion
Bumping into gopher mound cushions

How far can it possibly go?

Down the mad running rapids
That connect one pond to the next
Tossing and turning
Wind directionless as if hexed

To the sea of giant duck
Where they must be quiet as mice
Steering the great plastic ship
Avoiding fallen trees once or twice

Is there a goal?
What is the mission?

"There doesn't have to be"
Snaps the captain
Angry that anyone has spoken without permission

At that he steers directly into the main stream
Gully walls angled away at precise angle
Snarling at squirrels and early frogs
Lest they get into the bare rigging and get tangled

"Somewhere out there is the real sea
I can feel it"

The captain rubbed his knees
His bones aching at the sensation of feeling anything at all
His chances of making it to open water
About as good as the chances that this is not a tale ten feet tall

But that doesn't stop him

And in someone's imagination still
This little boat full of brave little people
Are sailing far off seas

For wishes and horses
Pretend boats, captains and crew
All live on forever
In the meandering minds of me and you

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fat Jesus

Fat Jesus has diabetes
He has to check his blood sugar
And is supposed to watch what he eats
He should
But he does not

Fat Jesus can perform miracles
Cure the sick and heal the lame
But he sadly can't fix himself
He tries but remains the same

His magic doesn't work like that
Or his miracles

When he has a good day
It's all water and fishes
Self confidence following success
And light Mediterranean dishes

Other times it's a bad day
And it's all bread and wine time
Comforting carbohydrates and red fruity spirits
Everyone expressing disbelief leaving him less than fine

Fat Jesus loves his Jesus beard
It hides his double chin
Makes him look strong and regal
Projecting more of what he feels within

Fat Jesus sits like Buddha
Letting the children rub his tummy
Telling parable and story
Some dead serious, others light and funny

Mostly Fat Jesus tries to live up to his potential
To be all that he can be
And on the days that he can't
He eats all the food that he sees

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


There was a blue outline
Of where something used to be
Perhaps something had passed away
Something of shape odd and rare
At least judging from the outline
Which didn't show what but certainly where

Where the deed went down
On the hard hard ground
Of dry Roman cement

Oh mister strange shaped creature
Of seemingly only two dimensions
Shall I leave your flashed image
As tribute to your passing?

I consider my options as I sit and have a think

If I drag the coffee table over
And bring in a black couch of leather
You know I think it might just work after all
Blue outline, you really tie the room together!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A forest of trees
Trunks going skyward
Green fingers soaking up the sun
Roots going down
Searching for an anchor
Searching for sustenance
A base to grow upon
A sky to strive for

Making this forest of trees
No different than you and me

Interacting at the Run

I am a reactant
Could be this
Could be that
Don't hate me for what I am
Or even what I will be

I am only what is made of me

Combined with fellow reagents
Some friends from the periodic table
An electrode inserted deep within
My cousin a battery near at hand

We commiserate
My elemental friends and I
What brings us together here?
We don't notice
But we are hidden in plain sight
People always passing by

Then everything comes together in an instant
The electricity flowing
Interactions with reactions
All fairly predictable
Given what we are as a group
This small explosive community


It's okay
We can talk about it
It's never too soon

Monday, April 15, 2013


I tried standing still all day
Arms outstretched like a tree
And wouldn't you know it
It started raining so as to soak me to the bone
My clothes clung to me
Clammy and damp
Oh I was a sight to see

The temperature dropped
It dropped like a rock rolling with the sun
Further away it dropped out of sight
The setting sun and the rock becoming one

Rain turned to sleet
And big chunky slushy snow
Coated my wet clothes face and hair
Giving me a shocking white frozen afro

I froze solid in place
A statue of ice flesh and permanent press
Garments adding color
Making me look quite the hot mess

In the night the wind started to blow
My frozen form swayed a little
But things were stiff and cracks started to show
I started to worry that I was too brittle
To last without the storm laying me low

At last something did break
My right arm coming down in a crash
All crystalline and color
My eyes trying to see the cold color gash

But they had little time to waste
As a descending oak branch descended in a rush
Making the most of it's thirty two point two feet per second acceleration
Smashing into me and making one crashing laceration

Shattering me into a million faceted fragments in the icy snow

When the sun finally rose
It was to the sight of a murder of crows
Picking at the ground where it was that I once stood
Taking what was left of me
Away on kaw-kawing black wing
To nourish some new life
Residing in tall tree or short bush

Of me all that was left were my glasses
On the ground where it was that I once stood
Arms outstretched like a tree
Oh poor piteous me
Mother nature took right good care of me
Just as I knew that she would

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Flying Circus pt 4

The captain and first officer were mouth agape at what I told them
Neither one of them believed me about Gina the giraffe
So first the captain went back to see for himself what she was doing
Then the first officer took his turn

Both of them came back shaking their heads at what they'd seen
The sight of Gina pulling on the flight control cables with her big giraffe teeth

For some reason the flight engineer hadn't needed convincing
Perhaps he'd seen it all before
You know the type

The captain took charge and gave me a mission
"Get with the handlers and see if you all can figure out how to get her to stop
I can't have her doing that
Especially when we are coming in to land"

I went back to talk to the handlers
Who were all grouped at the access door in the back of the upper deck
Watching the giraffe pick at the ceiling of the airplane

We soon came up with a plan and went down the ladder to the main deck

The handlers went to their equipment box and pulled out a few items
Two adjustable length leads with chrome hooks at each end
And three onions

Turns out that Gina the giraffe loves onions as a treat
A fact that I added to the day's list of new things learned

We all walked down to Gina's open topped crate
Two of the handlers went to either side of the crate
Hooking one end of the leader that they each had into a steel ring
About three quarters of the way up the side of the container
And climbing up to the top of the box on either side of the giraffe

Gina stood in the middle of her small area
Looking innocent as can be
But wary of what we were doing

Myself and the last handler climbed up on top of an animal crate just in front of Gina's
Before climbing up I looked at the label
It said "Paulina, World's Biggest Pig"
Looking inside one of the slotted holes in the side
Sure enough
Paulina was one big pig

Pauling oinked at me
I swear she winked

Once up on the top
I held my offering of onions up for Gina to see
Her nostrils flared and she came forward to check them out
A very long dark giraffe tongue coming out as she got close to me
Touching an onion
Almost knocking it out of my hands

Satisfied with what she tasted
She moved in and gently plucked one onion from my hands
Chewing it messily
Making my eyes water with the onion smell

At the same time that she took the onion
The guy next to me grabbed Gina's halter that she wore on her head
Seemingly for just such occasions as this

He cooed at her softly in some language I didn't know
And whatever he said must have worked
Because Gina didn't even flinch when the two handlers on the side of the container
Leaned in and clipped their leads to the rings on either side of her halter
As the first guy held her still

I fed Gina the last two onions
Which she enjoyed with giraffe abandon

And all four of us climbed down and stood back

Now wearing the leads attached to her crate
Gina could still stand up all the way
As long as she stood in the front of her area
But she couldn't reach up and pick at the ceiling insulation
Or pull on the flight control cables anymore

Gina the giraffe fluttered her long eyelashes at us
Maybe admonishing us for wrecking her fun

The handlers stayed downstairs to do their rounds of all the rest of the animals
I went back upstairs to report that things were under control

Halfway up the steps I remembered that I had my camera stowed in my bag
And that I'd totally forgotten about it

Nobody would ever believe me when I told this story
I wonder if I could turn Gina loose again for some photos?

But that was just idle thinking
I continued upstairs
Told my tale to the crew
And got my long sequestered lunch out
For a mile high nosh

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flying Circus pt 3

In my own little trashy novel world
Stomach just starting to tell me it was almost dinner time
I became aware of a discussion between the flight deck crew members

"See that?
It just did it again!"
The captain had his hands on the elevator trim
Putting a few degrees of nose down on the aircraft

I just watched for a minute to try to see what was happening
After all
I might have to fix something once we landed again

"Is the autopilot letting the controls creep?"
The copilot was idly speculating

The flight engineer had a manual open in front of him on his little desk
It was the flight operations manual
He didn't add anything to the discussion yet
He was still double checking the way the system was supposed to be working
Just in case something had been dialed in wrong

I decided to jump in
"What's it doing exactly?"
I asked

The copilot half turned to face me
"About fifteen minutes ago
We had the autopilot set and trimmed up
When it started yawing to the left a little bit
We corrected and it seemed to go away"
He looked skeptical
"We blamed it on a glitch or some strange turbulence"

"Everything was fine for about ten minutes
Then we pitched down slightly
Then up slightly
So we checked the mach trim
And tried to see if the autopilots were fighting with each other or something
But everything seemed fine"
Now he looked irritated
"Then just now we started yawing again
This time to the right
I can't figure it"

We discussed it for a few more minutes
And I was just about to break out the microfiche machine and the manuals to read the trouble shooting trees

Just then
The handlers all headed back down to check the animals again
I went with them as before
Just in case something was amiss and I could help

I also kept my eyes open for anything out of the ordinary that might explain what was going on with the plane

The 747 Classics don't have liner all the way around the cargo compartment
About seven feet above the floor level
The gil liner walls end
Leaving the insulated aircraft structure exposed
And way up in the crown area of the fuselage
Flight control cables ran in their runs and pulleys
From where the upper deck ended
Until they disappeared through the aft pressure bulkhead on their way to the tail

As I wandered the cargo deck
Walking in and out of the cages and crates
I let my flashlight play on the cable runs
Looking for anything wrong

Everything seemed fine

The only obviously alert animal
Gina the giraffe
Watched me walk around intently

"I don't have any treats for you darlin'"
I said on my way by her box

She looked down at me
Fluttering her long lashes at me
What a flirt

Going back up to the upper deck
About twenty minutes had gone by
During that time nothing unusual had happened
And not finding any obvious answers
The crew had slowed down on their troubleshooting mission
Having switched the topic to the latest baseball stats it seemed

I went back and tidied up the galley a bit before sitting back down
Finding my book again

The handlers all came back up a few minutes later
And we all spent a few quiet minutes minding our own business

Which was, of course, when the plane yawed to the right again

The crew started right back where they had been with the problem
Which was when I remembered one more place I could look for trouble

At the back of the passenger upper deck area
There is a false wall
In this wall on a freighter is an access door
This is where I went

On the other side of the door the floor continued for another five feet or so
Where it ended in some structure that tied into the main fuselage
In all this were wire bundles, air ducts and flight control cables
And just beyond that
Was a big nylon guard net
Designed to keep tall pallets of cargo from ramming into the more delicate upper deck structure

Beyond that was the open main cargo deck
Which I could see through the tangled web of everything else

I looked around with my flashlight
Checking on the cable runs in here that I hadn't been able to see from down below
Nothing seemed wrong
Everything was happily going where it was supposed to
Nothing touching anything that it wasn't supposed to

I switched off my light and was just about to turn around to head back forward through the access door
When I saw Gina the giraffe

She was extending herself as far as she could and picking at the ceiling area
With nobody around she was being naughty
I watched her for a moment
Thinking I should tell the handlers
As she could get sick if she ate the insulation

When Gina the giraffe did something surprising
She grabbed ahold of something and pulled
I could see her neck flex as she pulled hard on whatever it was

Simultaneously with what I was seeing the giraffe do
I heard a complaint from the cockpit
Muffled through the access door to me

It's doing it again!"

I realized what Gina the giraffe was doing
And I knew why the plane was pitching and yawing

Gina was pulling on the flight control cables that ran above her pen
Certainly not hard enough to break them
But just hard enough to start the plane gradually going this way and that

With a wry smile I went back forward to share my news with everyone
As something was going to have to be done about naughty Gina the giraffe

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flying Circus pt 2

I rested my eyes as I sat strapped in with the four point harness
Held securely in place on the sheepskin covered cushions
Activity went on around me

The captain at the controls
Steering the airplane around the airport's complex network of taxiways
Talking to the tower with one hand on the tiller
The other on the throttles
Feet occasionally dabbing at the top of the foot pedals for a bit of braking

The copilot had a checklist in his hands
Going down it item by item
Talking back and forth with the flight engineer at his own panel
Both of them participating in the checklist routine
Switches and circuit breakers being pressed or verified

Not much being asked of me back in my second observer's seat
Just to be quiet and stay out of the way
Which is just what I was doing
Eyes closed for the moment

As the big Boeing 747 freighter came to a stop short of the runway
I perked up and started looking around

An arriving flight roared just ahead and above us
Streaking by to touch down about one hundred yards down from us on the runway
The tower gave us the go ahead to line up on the runway for take off

Brakes released
Throttles nudged up to get us rolling then pulled back again
We crossed the hold line and entered the runway
Hanging a sharp left just as the runway centerline was even with the captain's shoulder
Then stopping once we were all lined up and centered

Once the aircraft that had just landed cleared the runway
The captain got clearance from the tower
Throttles pushed forward
Takeoff power set

A seconds pause as the engines and airplane quivered in anticipation
And a leap forward as the brakes were released
To start gobbling up runway faster and faster
Until we jumped upwards into the sky
Pushed back and down into our seats pleasantly

I closed my eyes again
Soaking up the feeling

All too soon we leveled out at our first flight level
The animal handlers asked if they could go check on the critters
So I got up to let the ladder down to the main deck for them
The four of us climbed down to look around

On my way down I saw the loader was already asleep
I tossed a little masking tape ball at him
He opened one eye at me
But otherwise didn't move

I continued down the steps following the handlers

Once down there I stretched my legs a little bit
Following the handlers around a bit
As they looked into every cage
Making sure that the animals weren't too miserable

A zebra had gotten tangled in a loose strap somehow
Which provided some excitement for about five minutes
But everything else seemed shipshape
With the animals all pretty bored more than anything else

They've all apparently seen it all before
The glories of showbiz and travel
Gina the giraffe shuffled around slowly in her open box
Lazily looking around

I left everyone to their business and went back upstairs
Time to check out the meal situation

I wasn't a fan of the catering food
But there were some menu items I'd learned to avoid
And upon inspection
There were a few of those 'off limits' to me items in the box

After selecting a safe meal for myself
I stowed it in a corner of the cockpit and sat back down in my seat
Idly looking out the windows at the massive cotton candy clouds all around us

After a while I dug out my latest trashy novel
Leaned back and had a read until suppertime

Flying Circus Pt 1

I looked out across the cargo deck in wonder
Long rows of large containers and cages the length of the cargo deck
Bits of hay and straw were littered here and there along the walkways
An occasional growl, whinny, grunt or roar would punctuate the regular airplane sounds

And it smelled like a zoo

I've flown with a plane full of horses
Fancy ones with fancy names
Braided tails and ribboned  manes
Polished hooves and soft blankets on their backs

That plane smelled like a stable

I've flown with a load of beef cattle
All in partitioned pallets
Mooing and milling about the whole flight
Poking up their soft noses into the air

It all smelled like a dairy farm that time

This time had a very distinct zoo smell
Though that wasn't exactly what we were transporting
In our (formerly) clean Boeing 747 freighter
This charter flight was for a circus

There were handlers moving up and down the cages and crates
Making sure all the animals had their food and water
Checking the bedding wasn't too soiled
Double checking that each special pallet was secure

Hanging out in the front of the plane
In the little area I liked to think of as mine
Where my tool box and travel case were stowed
Next to the box of aircraft spare parts and tools
A few ladders and fire extinguishers making the area more interesting

I made sure everything up front was tied down and locked up
Wouldn't do to have things rolling or bouncing about in flight
As I did that I stopped and stared at our cargo
I couldn't see any of the animals from where I was standing

Except one
The giraffe

His crate had an open top
With pads along the top of the walls
That way she could stick her head out to her heart's content

I know it was a girl giraffe because I'd asked
And found out that her name was Gina
Gina the giraffe

Of course a circus giraffe would have a name like that

It seemed she was watching me too
Facing me with her soft brown eyes
About eighty feet back from where I was
Gina the giraffe chewed on a mouthful of food thoughtfully it seemed
Not terribly concerned with anything

The loader hollered something in the back
And the large main cargo door on the left aft side of the plane slowly closed
It's hydraulic motor emitting it's familiar whine
The multiple locking claws rotating in place when it got to it's closed position
Green lights showing up on the forward panel near me when it was locked down

Almost time to get going
And the three handlers were heading up to the front of the plane
We all were going to climb the retractable ladder to the upper deck
Where there were business class seats for everyone

Everyone except me this time
The three handlers and the loader would ride in the passenger upper deck area
Sitting in those four seats
I'd be up in the cockpit riding in an observer's seat for the whole flight
Which wasn't so bad
There was usually something interesting to look at up there

I felt the unseen pushback tractor jolt the aircraft as it started pushing us out of our spot
And I climbed the aluminum ladder to the upper deck

Time to get situated for takeoff

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I used to be pretty
Not in the sense that I was pretty
But very pretty nonetheless

I didn't wear dresses or makeup
No sexy high heels graced my feet
My hair wasn't long and silky
Or short and sassy

Though it was once long and greasy
But I was still oh so pretty

Pretty in the way that Muhammad Ali meant I think
All young and smooth
With all the best moves that I'd ever have
No wrinkles on my face
All my teeth in place
No aches and pains in my joints

It's the pretty that I see in retrospect
Of me posing for our school newspaper's swimsuit edition
Doing dangerous things blissfully unaware of the danger
Of smiling and scowling as I please
With no deep crease upon my brow

I suppose that in twenty years hence
I'll look back and think of how pretty I am now
With all the advantages this younger self has
Less wrinkles and fewer still scars
Than the future me will surely have

Maybe I'll jumpstart the process
Perhaps with a little cajoling
I can convince myself
That I'm really quite pretty right now

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


The kings and queens of Nazerene
Rode their prawns the size of oliphants
With gold and gems upon every long stem
Of both leg and antenna

From their saddles on high
The queen spied prey
On which the hounds were sic'd never to be seen again
As the prey had an appetite for hound

At this the king did froth
As hounds were nary a penny per pound
Each cost time in training plus room and board
At a high cost per unit to the crown

The prawn mounts caught the mood
As the king sat and fumed
At the queen's lack of responsibility
They began stomping and rearing
At every living thing in the clearing
Making mudholes with every step

The king and queen of the Nazerene
Were finally thrown from their seats to the ground
As their riding ability was strictly for show
And mad stomping prawns were well above it

The prawns spied a king or queen for each
Grabbing them lightly in their front periopods
To be raised to open mouth
These riders so long hated
First tasted then eaten till sated

Now running free with a taste for royal flesh
The prawn went forth and were fruitful
Soon making a herd
In that strange land where both cypress and bird
Romanced halibut wherever they roamed

Monday, April 8, 2013

Visiting Hours

There are no visiting hours in heaven
Or wherever one goes after this mortal coil
It's not one and the same
With this world where one can knock on wood

No after hours conferences with the elders
Unless silence is the answer you seek
Though silence can speak volumes
Answered worth a damn are seldom so meek

Burn your incense and speak your chants
Trim flowers and paint sugar skulls
Rend your garments while uttering rants
Death comes sooner than later
So now is your chance


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Flag Carrier

Fluttering on the ground
Like a dead orange and black bird
I drove by it three times

Once yesterday
On the way into town for groceries
I considered what it could be
Because it reminded me of something
But I couldn't put my finger on it

I tried to remind myself to stop on the way back and pick it up
But I forgot

Today I saw it again
It hadn't mysteriously disappeared
Like so many things laying on the side of the road do

It was still fluttering in the wind of passing cars
Rocking back and forth
Orange and black

I tried to remind myself to stop on the way back and pick it up
This time I remembered

I pulled off onto the gravel shoulder
Grabbed it and got back in

My daughter exclaimed
"We got a prize!"

"There's one in every box"
I replied
Straightening out the fabric
That was wrapped around a springy stalk

It was a strangely proportioned cross
Much like a Chevrolet badge in black on an orange field
Simple block letters proclaiming


It must have fallen from a car in a procession
One of the many that go back and forth
Between the funeral home and one of several graveyards

A small fluttering reminder
Of the short transition between death
And a final resting place

To make way
Dead person rolling

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thinking of You

Thinking of you
In all the worst ways
Thinking of you
No matter what my therapist says

It's self destructive
It really is
Though a lot less harmful
Than actually following through

Actually calling you?
That'd undo months of therapy
Seeing you?
Would bring on unending apathy

I'd never want to get away
No matter the harm you cause
The way your touch makes me feel
Suddenly it's true love irregardless your flaws

Thinking of you is destructive enough
Thoughts of your skin
The silk of your thighs
It's really too much

It overwhelms me
Sending me into a spiral
Of lightheadedness and fever
You really could be viral

Where this goes is an unsaid certainty
As I reach for the phone
Your number a preprogrammed memory
All from just thinking of you

Friday, April 5, 2013

Silver Dollars

I might have been rich
Had I bothered last fall
To harvest the abundance before me
I could have had it all

All the silver dollars
Their silvery roundish shapes
Hanging from stiff stalks
Fluttering in the wind's wake

Last fall they were whole
Beautiful and metallic and true
Holding a few seeds each
I at least could have picked some for you

To use as a decoration
For as I've noted more than once
It's what my mother once did
Gracing her table, mantle or sconce

I could have gathered them all to myself
Piled them high in my room
Counted them to my heart's content
Till I was dwarfed in the gloom

Piles of silver dollars
All mine for the taking
Now tattered in the spring sun
Shown for what they are no faking

Perhaps in a couple years
When they come out again
I'll watch for their green disks in the yard
To turn silver and white with the fall
And even then not taking them all
So they may seed sprout and grow
To dazzle others with their dollar glory
Though to be money they only pretend

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eat, You Fat Bastard

Every day I wake up
Eat my bowl of cereal
And I have a standoff
With a donut at the table
Him over there
Me over here
Staring and daring him to jump in my mouth

Some days I win the contest
Other days I lose

Is it a loss
Or a win
If I eat the donut?

Now that's the question

The answer to which
Is the thing that shaves days off my life
Like grandfather's old hand plane
One stroke at a time

The main problem being
That food means happiness
Food means love
Maybe not to you
And if so
You're lucky
And probably normal

"Look at that poor fat bastard over there"
John pokes at his friend to get his attention
"Eating all by himself
The whole fucking thing

John doesn't say it too loud
But the sound carries just the same
Causing the fat bastard to turn a little red
And wipe at the wet in his eye
Brought on by silent shame

As he calls over the waitress
To order some dessert
Even though he's full
Even though it will make him feel sick
And give him a gut ache

But the ice cream won't judge him
The pizza won't reject him
Filling a void deep inside
Opened by love's lack
And as long as the place will serve him
He'll keep on coming back

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Too Short

Being short is relative
To perspective
To scale
To the average

Too short is the story
That only has one word
Though Hemingway wrote one with six
Or at least that's what I heard

Too short is the manhood
Relative to porn perceptions
Though it's real measure is the pocket of it's mate
And it's ability to perform conceptions

Too short is the man
Who cannot reach the top shelf
But that isn't all it's cracked up to be
And for god's sake don't call him an elf

Too short is the tail
Of a docked brown dachshund
Though that's only in comparison
To the longest monkey's tale around

Too short is the poem
That ends before the first rhyme
Though there are those that never do
Even if they extend to the end of time

Too short is the life
That ends before it's fulfilled
But who's the judge of that?
The "That Life Was Just Right" super secret guild?

Too short can be measured on a scale of one to ten
Or lining things up from shortest to tallest
And slipping it in until she says 'when!"
But other than obvious cues like that
There is no way to tell
If something is too short too tall too thin too fat

The variety is the spice
Which varies in and of itself
If everything was the same
Life just wouldn't be half as nice

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Western Fruit Salad

The blueberry buttons on my star fruit shirt
Complemented the strawberry sash
Around my pomegranate pants
Tucked neatly into blackberry boots
I was a sight to see

Upon my belt hung two clementine Colt six guns
With plenty of apricot ammunition
A snazzy voavanga vest
Complete with Fuji apple fringe
Riding atop my hungry huckleberry horse

I show my manners as I raise my guava gloved hand
And tip my kiwi cowboy hat to the ladies
Doing the odd trick with my long lemon lariat
Jumping through flaming fig hoops
That do suddenly appear

Such is the life of this kumquat cowboy
Singing home home on the range
Picking at a homemade salmon berry cigar box ukelele
Moseying off into the damson plum desert
And a painted seagrape sunset

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Maintenance

Raking the fall leaves in the spring
Brings to light so many forgotten things

My last year's motivation
Strewn over there near my broken knee
Along with some summer toys
Covered with mud but otherwise fine as far as I can see

A group of in identified tubers
Rooty bulby things that will soon grow
Into what I have no idea
For I tend a decaying garden and never sow

I think a few years ago
I tried to grow something
It may be over yonder never to rise again
But we shall see what the spring brings

Some pipes coming out of the house
Going to the septic tank
Getting more exposed every year that I rake
Pulling the sandy soil away
The white pipes just begging to be stepped on
Just another thing for me to break

Dog poos aplenty in the dog designated area
To get raked and collected
Along with all the leaves grass and sticks
A years worth of everything that was neglected

As with lots of manual tasks
I tend to find myself again
The repetitious motion and raised blisters
Only now making it feel like a new year
Not months ago in January
The world covered in snow, parties and promises

Half the leaves are still frozen to the ground hard
So I'll be at it again in a few weeks
More things to be moved and discovered
Both in the yard

And within myself